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How to Serve Documents in Alabama: A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Serve Documents in Alabama: A Comprehensive Guide


In legal proceedings, properly serving documents is a crucial step to ensure the case proceeds smoothly and all parties are informed of their rights and responsibilities. In Alabama, specific rules and procedures must be followed when serving legal documents. This guide will provide a step-by-step overview of how to serve documents in Alabama according to the state's regulations.


Step 1: Identify the Documents that Require Service

The first step is to identify the legal documents that need to be served. Common documents requiring service in Alabama include:

  1. Summons and complaints

  2. Subpoenas

  3. Petitions for dissolution of marriage (divorce)

  4. Child custody and support documents

  5. Eviction notices

  6. Small claims documents

Step 2: Determine the Appropriate Method of Service

In Alabama, there are several methods available for serving documents:

  1. Personal service: The most common method, personal service involves delivering the documents directly to the individual being served. This method is typically required for initiating lawsuits, such as serving a summons and complaint.

  2. Substituted service: If personal service cannot be completed after multiple attempts, substituted service may be allowed. This involves leaving the documents with a responsible adult (usually at least 18 years old) at the recipient's residence or place of business.

  3. Certified mail: Some documents, such as subpoenas, can be served via certified mail with return receipt requested. The recipient must sign for the mail, confirming receipt of the documents.

  4. Service by publication: In cases where the recipient cannot be located after diligent efforts, the court may allow service by publication. This involves publishing a legal notice in a local newspaper for a specified period.


Step 3: Choose a Qualified Process Server

In Alabama, the following individuals are authorized to serve legal documents:

  1. Sheriffs and their deputies

  2. Licensed private process servers

  3. Individuals who are at least 19 years old, have no interest in the case, and are appointed by the court

It is recommended to use a licensed private process server or a sheriff to ensure that service is completed correctly and efficiently.


Step 4: Provide the Process Server with Necessary Information and Documents

Provide the process server with all necessary documents and information, including:

  1. Copies of the documents to be served

  2. The full name and physical address of the individual or entity being served

  3. A description or photograph of the recipient, if available

  4. Any specific instructions or deadlines related to the service


Step 5: Complete an Affidavit of Service or Return of Service

Once the documents have been served, the process server must complete an Affidavit of Service or Return of Service. This document certifies the date, time, and location of service, as well as the identity of the person served. The affidavit or return must be notarized and filed with the court as proof of service.


Step 6: Monitor the Progress of Your Case

After the documents have been served, monitor the progress of your case and be prepared to take any necessary actions, such as responding to motions or attending hearings.


By following these steps and adhering to Alabama's rules and regulations, you can ensure that your legal documents are served correctly and efficiently. If you have any questions or concerns about serving documents in Alabama, it's always a good idea to consult with an experienced attorney or professional process.


Served 123 LLC possesses comprehensive experience in handling service of process throughout all 50 states. We strictly adhere to local rules and are committed to your satisfaction. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions or concerns and let us demonstrate how we can be of assistance to you today.





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